An 11-year-old boy accused of fatally shooting a married couple at their New Hampshire home last month had been adopted from Russia years earlier. He’s now facing murder charges for killing them.
The boy, whose identity is being withheld, is facing second-degree murder charges for the March 15 slayings of Drs. James and Lizette Eckert at their Alton farmhouse. Friends and family have since told The Boston Globe that the Eckerts adopted the boy from a Russian orphanage as a toddler along with his older brother.
Reports indicated that responding officers found Lizette dead with a gunshot to the head. James was found mortally wounded in the head and succumbed to his injuries days later. The tween allegedly took to the woods after the shooting and police located him two hours later.
James and Lizette Eckert set about building a life based on Scripture and the Constitution, friends said. Then one day, terror trespassed on their land. https://t.co/rzTxUdZQ1U
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) March 31, 2019
The couple, who previously ran a chiropractic practice in Maine, reportedly adopted the 2- and 4-year-old boys through KidsFirst Adoption, an Indiana-based adoption agency, in or around 2010. Neighbors in Maine who spoke with The Globe recalled seeing the boys and the couple’s biological daughter picking blackberries and riding their bikes around the neighborhood.
The news outlet reported that Lizette’s father apparently purchased the New Hampshire farmhouse in October 2012. Before leaving Maine, the Eckerts reportedly became legally and financially burdened following an IRS audit of their now-dissolved practice.
As the couple endured court hearing after court hearing, neighbors claimed family became more isolated, their children went around town with little supervision, and that they often witnessed the youngest boy crying.
The Eckerts reportedly homeschooled their three children at the New Hampshire farmhouse. The home reportedly didn’t have television and James reportedly emphasized self-reliance and expressed distrust of safety nets and systems in place intended to support him and his family. Despite this, friends claimed the Eckerts weren’t isolated as they attended youth soccer games and religious functions.
In the coming days, friends would remember how James and Lizette Eckert seemed to love the little boy they adopted from a Russian orphanage as a toddler along with his older brother, and wonder what they had missed. https://t.co/FriE8PTTTr
— #NBC7 San Diego (@nbcsandiego) April 9, 2019
“They wanted to be quiet and handle things,” said Sue DeLemus, who attended Bible study with the family. “They were very self-sufficient and independent people.”
KidsFirst director Inna Pecar told The Globe that the Eckerts stopped sending annual reports to Russia after three years, which the country mandates when Americans adopt Russian children. Pecar also said that children coming from Russian orphanages had suffered some sort of trauma. She confirmed that unresolved trauma can sometimes resurface when a child reaches puberty, she said.
Authorities have yet to reveal a motive in this case or how they believe the 11-year-old gained access to a gun.
[Featured image: Lizette and James Eckert/Facebook]